Saturday, January 31, 2009

Playing what we want

I kid you not. As Jackson and I were messing around the house this morning this is what Jack FM in Dallas played in one 45 minute this order...Nirvana, Huey Lewis, Whitesnake, Peter Gabriel, Prince, U2, Modern English, Joan Jett, Weezer and the Talking Heads.

Yeah, Jack FM rocks.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Superbowl Thoughts

I'm really not that interested in this year's Superbowl. It's hard for me to get into most athletic endeavors without a rooting interest involved. If I don't have a dog in the hunt...I usually don't care. I'm not into the intrinsic beauty of sports if there is such a thing or for watching a game on television just for the games sake. If the Royals aren't playing...I don't care much about that baseball game on FOX.

I might make an exception if there's an intriguing story line or if the game affects my team in some way. Watching Tech beat the longhorns was sweet. I can sometimes watch an event if I'm rooting AGAINST someone. I guess I'm not a true "sports" fan. I am a fan of certain sports teams. Still, I log too many hours on and

Most superbowls are lousy games anyway. Last year's was pretty cool...I didn't like either team...but seeing Eli Manning somehow escape the pile...lob up a desperate pass...the ball bouncing off the usually spare WR Tyree's helmet and he somehow coming down with the ball to keep the Giants drive alive. Then the Giants scoring and beating the undefeated Pats. That was a heck of a game.

This year if I have to choose I'm pulling for the Cards. I hate the Squealers. I hate Pomalaeu's (sp?) hair. I like Kurt Warner. And Zona's never been to the dance. Bout time they win it.
I'll really be into the 2012 superbowl...held in Arlington...because that's when KC will be making an appearance. My explanation for this confidence can be found here.

Otherwise...go Cards...this year at least.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Flush Rush.

I hate to admit this...but there was a time when I actually listened to Rush Limbaugh. I read his first two books. I watched his TV show occasionally. He was funny and well spoken. Didn't agree with him sometimes...but he was entertaining and often made valid criticisms of the Clinton administration. Of course I was in high school at the time and thought Vanilla Ice could rap. Yes, there's a lot I wish I could forget.

But something happened to Rush. Maybe his influence and money went to his head. He became more shrill. His schtick became more hateful. He betrayed his own party...not with valid and needed criticism...but with innuendo and gossip whenever the party didn't kowtow to his large (and getting larger) shadow.

He became a hypocrite...buying pharmaceuticals illegally while ranting about law and order and "druggies" on his program. His logical arguments morphed into vehemence. As my students would say...he became a hater. He singlehandedly tried to destroy John McCain's candidacy.

Even fellow conservative Bill Bennett (aka, The Gambler) has taken him to task over wishing Obama would fail. It's a lot like that pastor who recently said he will not under any circumstances pray for Obama. I guess that's better than the scores of people out there pretending to pray for Obama.

Well Rush has gone too far. There's even a petition out there stating their opposition to Limbaugh. Unfortunately that only keeps his name in the news longer than it needs to be. Too bad he just can't wither away.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Skiing in Texas

So my standard World History classes have been lurking around the 19th Century these past two weeks. Talked a lot about revolutions, evolutions and all sorts of isms (Conservativism, Liberalism, Socialism, Nationalism, Imperialism, and Marxism). Today we were chatting about the unfunniest of the Marx Brothers...Karl.

In Das Kapital, Marx states that our ability to transform our environment is one of the things that differentiates us from the beasts (no...not right-wing talk show hosts...animals). Regarding transforming our environment I mentioned the plans to build a ski mountain from scratch north of Fort Worth. The planned Bearfire Resort (pictured) will feature a 250 tall man-made mountain and 35 acres of artifical ski slopes. Skiing in Texas. We'll see if that ever really gets off the ground...literally.

Well to later prove Marx's theory about the two armed camps (proletarians and bourgeoisie) in constant struggle one of my students from the working classes came up to me after class to ask when this fake mountain was going to be built. I said I didn't know for sure...but sometime in the next two years I believe. You'll have to check the website. Well, he said he had never been skiing or snowboarding and would really like to give it a shot. He said this whole transforming the environment thing rocks.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Deadlines and Damocles

I work a whole lot better and faster when I'm under a deadline. Someone once asked Mark Twain what was the source of his greatest inspiration. Twain answered..."a deadline." Albert Camus (pictured left) in The Rebel (a book I blogged about here) described the effectiveness of a deadline this way...

"Damocles never danced better than under that sword."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Prophetic Socratism

"I will celebrate for one day. I'll break-dance in the morning and party in the afternoon. But the next day, I'll become one of his major critics. His calling is one of progressive goverance, and my calling is Socratic and prophetic. But all the criticism will emanate from my deep love for him."

I can only hope to emulate Dr. West's as a prophetic and Socratic questioner of our society and government. On my educator blog, The Forum, I recently implored my students to question and debate...but in measured fashion. My most recent post urged my students to disagree...but with respect.

Unfortunately so many people hurl insults and not ideas. Many bristle and cast aspersions when threatened by even polite criticism. It's not even worth my time to log into Facebook because any time a criticism is lodged toward George W. Bush, his dogmatic defenders throw out words like "those liberals" and "libs" despite the fact that I am not liberal (or conservative) and that any educated student of conservatism would see how Bush was anything but a conservative. And to suggest that John McCain was a conservative is fallacious. I actually supported Bush on immigration and abortion issues.

I voted for Barack Obama despite some major philosophical differences. No candidate I have ever voted for has ever meshed with my ideology completely and I seriously doubt one ever will. But just because I voted and supported Barack Obama does not mean I cannot critique or question his policies. Three concerns jump out immediately on day two of the new administration...

1.) Rescinding the "Mexico City" doctrine of prohibiting tax-payer support of international organizations that include abortion counseling in their programs.

2.) The installation of too many recycled "Clintonites" into the new administration.

3) The selection of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Her husband's Global Initiative reeks too closely of being an influence peddling operation. The Clinton foreign policy position in Bosnia in the 1990's was tardy and intentionally stalled due to Hillary's focus on a failed healthcare initiative and their position on Rwanda was shamefully non-existent.

Some of the things that I'm happy about on day two...

1.) The closing of Gitmo and other CIA "Black" sites around the world.

2.) The denuncuation and the elimination of torture, especially waterboarding, in our intelligence and armed services communities.

3.) The 16 month timetable of removing troops from Iraq. This has been supported by both Bush and the Iraqi government. A timetable places the onus on the Iraqis to get their democracy off the ground without being infanticized by the continuing presence of thousands of American soldiers. We will still have the largest embassy in the world located in Baghdad.

I just long for rational and respectful debate in our society. Unfortunately that is a too seldom an occurance.

photo: President Obama and Cornel West

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Brothers and Sisters.

I always wondered how Martin Luther King, Jr. dealt with all the hate directed at him during the Civil Rights Movement. Maybe this line from Dostoevsky helps explain.

"Brothers, have no fear of men's sin. Love a man even in his sin, for that is the semblance of divine love and is the highest love on earth."

- Conversations and Exhortations of Father Zossima. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lower Class Envy

So I was listening to NPR's Morning Edition on the way to work this morning. They featured a story about the "hardships" facing wealthier folks who are not eligible for the same mortgage rate cuts that those with more modest incomes can have access to.

He had to, God forbid, take his children out of private school and put them in horror of horrors...public school. So they had to sacrifice and move to a $475,000 home in the swanky Boston suburb of West Ridge to enjoy the benefits of a good school district. But he was still upset since his home value was above the $417,000 cut-off for lower mortgage rates.

He did not think it was fair that "teachers and others of more modest incomes" have access to lower rates and that he did not despite the fact that he is a hardworking American who pays his taxes.

By this time I had run out of kleenex due to the profusement of tears running down my face. Seriously? Lower class envy?

As a teacher my advice to this struggling fellow American is to buy a house worth only $400,000. Then you can have access to those lower mortgage rates. I'm sure you'll be able to make due in such a modest shack.

You can listen the travails of this poor man HERE...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2008 Movie List

Another 2008 list. When I was in college I used to average seeing one movie a week. Then once the working life started that number went down to one or two a month. Then as life got real busy with the arrival of my son I'm lucky to see one every other month. Here's the list of movies I saw in the theater in 2008.

August Rush (Not bad. Sometimes great.)

Prince Caspian (Good. Better than TLWW)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. (Awful. Created a lingo for something once great but now ridiculous..."They nuked the fridge."

Hancock (Started good then went all weird)

The Dark Knight (Very good...would have been great but ran too long with Two Face's story)

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Good summer flick. Not as good as the first...better than the second.)

Quantum of Solace...saw it twice in the theater. (Awesome. Great 007 flick. And I high standards for James Bond movies.)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The 2008 Book List

This is the final list of books I read over 2008.

Desolation Island (the fifth volume in the Master and Commander series) by Patick O'Brian

Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

The Places in Between by Rory Stewart

The Prince of the Marshes (and other occupational hazards of a year in Iraq) by Rory Stewart

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

Worlds at War - The 2,500 Year Struggle Between East and West by Anthony Pagden.

King Leopold's Ghost - A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild

The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History by Robert Darnton

Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling by James W. Sire

God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis

The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

Beowulf. A new tranlsation by Seamus Heaney. Bilingual (English/Anglo Saxon) Edition

In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

I enjoyed all these reads. I particularily enjoyed the two Rory Stewart books.

I have started 2009 with Taking on the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital World by Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Doesteyevsky. The Brothers Karamazov is proceeding in fits and starts. I'm about halfway through. Many consider it Doesteyevsky's masterpiece...but so far I prefer both The Idiot and Crime and Punishment to Brothers.
Regarding additional reading: I have dropped my subscription to SKI Magazine. I currently subscribe to Sierra (the official magazine of the Sierra Club), National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure and Skiing.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Holiday Highlights

Wow...I'm actually accessing my blogger dashboard from my school computer. Probably shouldn't admit that...but I'm on my lunch hour during a teacher workday. Usually Beijing has me blocked out of blogger. I figured I'd give it a try since sometimes things get shaken up a bit during breaks. Seems some bricks are missing from the Great (fire) Wall.

Highlights from the Holidays...

- 13 straight hours of heavy rain all the way from Tulsa, Oklahoma to French Lick, Indiana. We followed a line of storms across the midwest and the rain never let up...once. I have never driven in rain that lasted so long. But we made it through safely.

- Estimated 36 hours on the road all told. Forney to OKC. OKC to Tulsa. Tulsa to French Lick. French Lick back to Forney. Big Sandy rolled over the 100,000 mark on this trip. I love this truck.

- Jackson handled everything amazingly despite breaking out from an allergic reaction from an antibiodic for an ear infection on Christmas morning. Fortunately my uncle, who's a doctor, helped us immensely. He also got me an OU football with autographs from three of the four living OU Heisman trophy winners and he's got an inside track to get the fourth from Sam Bradford any day now.

- Jackson got to ride in Kimberly's Uncle Scott's Case International Tractor TWICE! He helped Uncle Scott get three bales of hay and feed the cows. Jackson couldn't sleep that night he was so excited.

- Temps in both Oklahoma and Indiana were unseasonably warm for the most part. Our last couple of days got cold up in Indy. When we headed out it was 17 degrees. It was 60 by the time we got to Texarkana.

- Jackson rode the big slides at McDonalds in Marion, Illinois and Chick-Fil-A in Texarkana.

- He also saw a lot of cops in Illinois who I guess were trying to raise future bail money for their Governor Blago.

- Couch surfers we are. Four beds in ten days. Jackson had the same bed all the way through...but in five rooms in ten days. And he slept through every night. The Little Man makes me proud.

- Jackson did get the airplane he had resolutely asked the daycare Santa and anyone else who would listen for.

- Ringo and Simba did not take out their frustration on their abandonment with any "messes." Thanks to Sam, Kristie and my parents for checking up on them.

- Kimberly got to watch HGTV on satellite. I got to watch the Tractor Channel with Vernon on his supercool new t.v.

- Ahhh...there's much more but I'm running out of time. Best thing was safe travel and getting to see the relatives. Now...back to the saltmines.
photo: Taken several years ago in "The Hollar." There was no snow on the ground during our stay.